The Relationship Between Hairstyles and Culture

We display our cultural identity through a variety of ways. Read about the relationship between hairstyles and culture and why styles matter.



Individuals reflect their culture in many ways. We sing songs and cook up delicious meals, all in the name of showcasing who we are as people, but it doesn’t end there. Many cultural groups use hairstyles to symbolize who they are. Hairstyles can also indicate social or marital status, religion, and other core areas of identity. Discover the fascinating relationship between hairstyles and culture in this article.

A Quick Bit on Hair and Religion

Many cultures and religions view hair as a sacred gift from nature, and some cultures even forbid individuals from cutting their hair. For example, in Sikhism, individuals believe hair is a gift from God and therefore refrain from cutting it. Other cultural groups and religions share this view and allow the hair on their head or facial hair to grow naturally since it’s the way God or Nature—depending on their beliefs—created everyone.

The Importance of Mohawks

Many of us can easily recognize a mohawk, which is most common among the Pawnee and Iroquois indigenous groups. The name of this style stems from the Mohawk Nation, and young warriors typically sported this hairstyle.

The Importance of Extensions

There are many types of hair extensions individuals can get to add to the length of their hair, and the origins of this date back to ancient Egypt. Only wealthy men and women wore extensions in ancient times, making them a symbol of the upper class. It wasn’t until the 1980s that people developed a way to attach hair with wax and make extensions accessible to everyone.

The Importance of Head Wraps

Many African cultures wear headwraps that symbolize royalty and identify an individual’s age, religion, or marital status. Another reason people first wore this style was to protect themselves from the natural environment and sunlight. The color or pattern of the wrap holds different meanings and signifies something about the individual.

The Importance of Dreadlocks

Due to its popularity, many of us can easily spot this hairstyle. There’s a record of it in various cultures, including the Himba Tribe. They created a paste to alter the color by coating the hair in a natural mixture. Some also make extensions out of goat hair or hay to add to the braids.

Why This Relationship Matters

Understanding the relationship between hairstyles and culture is important, as we see many individuals outside these cultures sporting these styles. As different pop culture groups gravitate toward these hairstyles, we need to remember where those styles came from, as sporting it may be offensive to others.

The way you style your hair reflects bits of your identity in society, and each style tells a different story that’s significant to a culture; it’s more than a simple look and may even tell a story passed down through generations. Unfortunately, sometimes, hairstyles are all that’s left of certain cultures, and these are stories we need to continue hearing.